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Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu: A homely base for exploring Shodoshima's charms - on land and at sea

Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu: A homely base for exploring Shodoshima's charms - on land and at sea

Date published: 25 February 2020

Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture is a microcosm of the best of Japan. The compact island sits within the sparkling Seto Inland Sea and offers everything from natural wonders to delicious cuisine. It also boasts traditional and modern art, a wild monkey park, terraced rice fields, soy sauce and sake breweries, and an ancient 88-temple pilgrimage route followed by pilgrims clad in traditional white garb. For the perfect base to explore the island, book a stay at Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu in the Sakate Port area.

Traditional feel with a fresh, modern atmosphere

Traditional feel with a fresh, modern atmosphere
Colorfully painted walls invite you into Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu

The Sakate Port area - in the southeast of Shodoshima - is home to a picturesque island community, a mere ferry ride from Japan's major cities. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of urban Japan and relax in a charming neighborhood comprising winding alleyways, retro buildings, and even a tiny craft beer brewery. Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu is located within a recently renovated traditional Japanese house, five minutes on foot from Sakate Port. The port directly links Shodoshima with Kobe City on Japan's main Honshu island, as well as Takamatsu City on the island of Shikoku. It's also a short bus ride away from Shodoshima's other ports.

Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu features traditional Japanese decor

Anzu has just three guestrooms: a private triple room and two dormitory rooms (with three beds each) for men and women, respectively. Each guestroom has a traditional Japanese feel, with tatami floors, futons that you roll out yourself, and design elements like sliding shoji doors, calligraphy wall-hangings, and a tokonoma alcove with a scroll painting. The small size of the guesthouse means conversations naturally spring up between guests; after a short time, you'll be making new friends from around the world.

Plan your day with the maps and pamphlets provided in the sitting area

During the day, you can roll up your futon and lay out the provided floor cushions and low tables. There's also a sitting area with a fridge, microwave, and hot water kettle where you can enjoy a cup of tea. This area looks out on the lovely terrace, where meals are served when the weather is fair. The surrounding garden has fresh herbs and vegetables. The spotlessly clean toilet and bath facilities are shared, and there's a washing machine on-site if you need it.

A terrace cafe with local flair

A terrace cafe with local flair
Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu owner Teruaki Kubo serves breakfast

Owner Teruaki Kubo prepares and serves breakfast to staying guests (and non-staying guests) from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Enjoy your food on the terrace with views of the majestic mountains on one side and the blue inland sea beyond the houses on the other. You'll receive the Japanese version of a western breakfast, complete with a salad, boiled egg, and toast made with Japan's unique fluffy white bread. For a drink, you can choose between coffee made with local beans or fresh orange juice.

Kakimaze gohan and somen set

The cafe also serves lunch prepared with local ingredients. The lunch options include a set meal featuring Shodoshima delicacies: kakimaze gohan (rice mixed with local produce), somen (thin noodles in a clear broth, a specialty of Shodoshima made in a factory on the island), and tsukemono pickles. You can also choose the seasonal pasta (the offering in October was pasta with seasonal mushrooms served with a side salad).

Enjoying food and chat on the terrace

Friendly hospitality from proud islanders

Chef Setsuko Ueshima, who lives in the neighborhood, cooks the cafe's lunch offerings. Setsuko has worked at Anzu since it opened. She explains: "It's fun to work here making food and talking with customers. They're always surprised at how many foods are produced locally on Shodoshima, from soy sauce to sake, olives, sesame oil, and somen noodles."

Serving local ingredients in her dishes offers Setsuko the opportunity to showcase Shodoshima's food culture. Setsuko is a proud islander. "Customers always ask if I'm from Shodoshima, and I proudly tell them I was born and raised here," she says. "I've known people who tried moving to big cities, but they've come back because they miss the island life. Some people who come here on holiday love it so much they buy houses here."

Shuhei Kono offers sightseeing tips

Shuhei Kono is one of those people. Originally from Kobe, he fell in love with Shodoshima after many visits and eventually decided to move here. Shuhei now works at Anzu and loves offering sightseeing recommendations for his new hometown.

The view from Goishizan on the Shodoshima pilgrimage route - not far from Anzu - is one of Shuhei Kono's recommendations

Ask him a question about the local area, and he'll pull out a map, directing you to all his favorite spots, including Kankakei Gorge and the view from the Goishizan stop on the Shodoshima pilgrimage route (though Shuhei points out that care is needed while walking on the rough-and-ready path).

  • Guesthouse & Cafe Anzu
    Guesthouse & Cafe あんず
    • Address Sakate-ko 646, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
    • Phone Number 0879-62-9881
    • Check-in:5 p.m.–7 p.m.
      Check-out:9 a.m.
      Cafe hours:Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m./Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
      Price per person (tax included):from 3,500 yen for a dormitory bed; from 7,000 yen for a reserved room; from 450 yen for breakfast; from 500 yen for lunch
      Closed:Monday, Tuesday
      Languages available:Japanese/Basic English
      Email:info@shodoshima-tours.jp

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

Pull on a lifejacket and go fishing with the locals

Pull on a lifejacket and go fishing with the locals
You never know what might come up in the net

Anzu owner Teruaki Kubo also runs Shodoshima Tours, a company offering several island experiences, including a walking tour of Sakate with a local guide, sea-kayaking to an uninhabited island, and boat and cycling tours. Don't miss the fishing boat tour aboard Daisan Kazenoko Maru, during which you can watch local fishermen pull aboard a varied catch.

Getting to know the local fishermen

There's nothing "touristy" about this genuine fishing boat. Sit on the sides and watch as the fishermen pull up their 500-meter-long net filled with all kinds of sea creatures. You might see stingrays, sea bream, flounder, rockfish, eels, squid, and more. A crew member pulls up a floor panel to reveal a hollow area filled with water where they throw in the catch. They're especially happy when they catch red-spotted groupers, which will fetch top prices at the market before being served at an elegant gourmet restaurant.

The views from the boat are an added bonus

The fishermen introduce themselves as Mr. Mori and Mr. Sorata, who have over 50 years of fishing experience between them. Their faces break into broad grins when guests react to a particularly unsightly or slippery fish (it's wise to wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet). Your time on the water is sure to get you in the mood for seafood.

  • Shodoshima Tours
    小豆島ツアーズ
    • Address Sakate-ko 416, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
    • Phone Number 0879-62-9881
    • Program:Fishing boat tour
      Meeting point:Sakate Port Tourist Information Center;Sakate-ko 1847, Shodoshima-cho, Shozu District, Kagawa
      Fee:3,500 yen (tax included)
      Requirements:Reservations required; must be 6 or older
      Languages available:Japanese/Basic English
      Email:info@shodoshima-tours.jp

    Vacancy search, reservation

    Check with our partner site as the latest rates, rate details, and guest room requirements may vary.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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